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Supply chain issues lead to struggle sourcing cream cheese for some bagel shops

Some Northeast Ohio bagel shops are feeling the squeeze when it comes to cream cheese

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — Supply chain issues have plagued businesses across a range of industries, leaving many without items they need to operate and serve customers. Now, some bagel shops in Northeast Ohio are feeling the squeeze when it comes to cream cheese, facing challenges in getting the spread.

“The biggest supply chain issue that we’re having right now is the cream cheese,” said Rachel Gross, co-owner of Bialy’s Bagels in University Heights.

Bialy’s has been around since the 60s, but these supply chain issues are a relatively new development during the pandemic.

“They started a year and a half ago or so where [the cream cheese supply] started to get spotty,” Gross said. “But we always seemed to just in the nick of time get a delivery and manage. Last Sunday we sold our last eight ounce brick of cream cheese.”

Gross said this is the first week the shop does not have any eight ounce cream cheese bricks available, though they still have one ounce individual servings.

“We used to have in what they call a loaf, which is the eight ounce brick, then we used to get a whipped plain tub, a whipped chive tub, an eight ounce strawberry, an eight ounce original plastic tub,” she said. “We can’t get any of that, and we haven’t been able to for almost a year.”

Bialy’s is not alone. Supply chain issues are also causing cream cheese shortages in New York City bagel shops and delis. A well known cream cheese brand is Philadelphia, which is a Kraft Heinz company. In a statement to the New York Times, a spokesperson said the company was seeing an increase in demand.

“We continue to see elevated and sustained demand across a number of categories where we compete,” the statement to the New York Times read. “As more people continue to eat breakfast at home and use cream cheese as an ingredient in easy desserts, we expect to see this trend continue.”

In Euclid, Bagel Buddy’s is facing the same problem, though they’re not solely short on cream cheese. Diane Hegedus Schwarz at Bagel Buddy’s makes muffins, pastries, and sandwiches fresh for her customers, but has had a hard time getting some key ingredients.

“Ham, turkey and bacon, a lot of times the bacon is hard to get,” she said. “My cups, my lids for my cups, my paper plates, my napkins. A lot of paper products, bags, gloves, tissues. So that’s a lot of stuff that I use.”

Hegedus Schwarz said luckily her customers have been understanding, and she does her best to provide alternatives, like butter or peanut butter, if an item like cream cheese isn’t available.

“Even though I have some, I keep getting it,” she said of doubling up on orders of certain harder to get items, like cream cheese, when she can. “It was supposed to be in last week and it didn’t come in. And now he said it wasn’t again in this week. He just sent me a message and it’s not in Thursday, either.”

Hegedus Schwarz said sometimes she’ll put in her orders for the week on Friday with her vendor, but by Sunday, the items she requested are out of stock. She’s noticed prices for products are going up as well.

“I try to get them what they want, but it’s getting a little bit more expensive,” she said.

Both shops said they do their best to serve their customers, and they hope their customers have some patience for the situation.

“Be patient, it’ll come back,” said Hegedus Schwarz. “Stick together, you know, we’ve got to stick together.”

“Be patient with us, we’re working as hard as we can and doing the best that we can given our circumstances,” said Gross.

*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a  previous, unrelated report.

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